Christmas Past

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Years ago I was challenged by a pastor to memorize Titus 2:11-14,

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

It was around Christmastime that I first set out to memorize these words, and as I rolled them around in my mind, trying to cement them into memory, that I suddenly saw something that I thought was kind of cool. Verse 11 speaks about Christmas past- that glorious first appearing of grace. Verse 12 speaks about Christmas’s present telling us how that appearing impacts how we live “in the present age.” Lastly, verse 13 points us to Christmas’s future by calling us to wait for the blessed hope, the second coming of Jesus.

Christmas Past (v. 11), Christmas Present (v. 12) , and Christmas’s Future (v. 13).

One of the things I find interesting about the old familiar story of Christmas is that it is not fixed in time like other stories. In a very real sense it is still unfolding. This is the great overarching story that encompasses all other stories, and we are living in it. The principle character of the Christmas story, Jesus, is still very much alive, and we have not seen the last of him. We stand today between the two advents of Christ. The first time, in Bethlehem, he came as a lamb of Grace. The second time he will come in his Glory as a lion to judge and rule. The Christian life is marked always by looking back and looking forward with profound implications for how we live in the present. I think it would be fair to say on the basis of these four verses that the incentive and power to live a Christian life pleasing to God comes from two directions as it were: it comes from looking back with gratitude to the grace of God that appeared in Jesus Christ at his first coming; and it comes from looking forward with hope to the glory of God that will appear at the second coming.

In Charles Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge was famously visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and in the days leading up to Christmas the Holy Ghost will come visit us in a powerful way as we study Titus 2:11-14 together.

I hope you can listen in as we take a look at Christmas Past, which was described in Titus 2:11 with these words, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.”